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Drink up! You may live longer

If you’re looking for a reason to drink, raise your glass to this: Heavy drinkers apparently outlive non-drinkers.

A research team, whose 20-year study was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, also found that people who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol —  one to three drinks a day — had lower mortality rates than both heavy drinkers and abstainers.

Specifically, abstainers and heavy drinkers appeared to be slightly more likely — by 51 percent and 45 percent, respectively — to die than moderate drinkers. The study followed 1,824 outpatients between the ages of 55 and 66.

Yet, “this is not to say that everyone can safely consume three drinks a day,” said Dr. Deni Carise, chief clinical officer at Phoenix House.

Abstainers may have had other medical problems that upped their risk of dying, said Carise, who noted that participants were recruited in medical settings. Also, three drinks a day can leave some people extremely tipsy, increasing injury risks.

Further, what the average young New York party animal consumes as one drink would be judged to be two or three drinks by the strict definitions of the study, Carise said.

Recovering alcoholics and those with a first-degree relative should not think they can safely consume a few drinks a day.

“Moderation management” of social drinking by ex-alcoholics, said Carise, “is not an often achieved goal.”

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The 20-year study found:

69% of the “never drinkers” died

60% of the heavy drinkers died

41% of the moderate drinkers died

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